Top tips for backyard trapping

Department of Conservation —  21/10/2017

It’s Conservation Week from the 14th – 22nd of October. You can get involved by protecting the native species in your neighborhood with a backyard trap.

We’ve talked about how to trap in your backyard, and how to build a trapping tunnel, and now we’re going to share some tips for getting the most out of your backyard trap.

Here at DOC we’ve been trapping rats and mice for quite a while, so we know a thing or two about how to catch them. Here are our top tips for backyard trapping.

1. Choose the best bait

This is a widely disputed issue, with some trappers swearing by good old peanut butter, while others buy rodent bait from specialist retailers.

Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington have put the different baits to the test, and found that stock-standard peanut butter might not always be the best bet. They found wild rats prefer cheese, milk chocolate, Nutella and walnuts to your standard peanut butter.


A selection of rodents’ favourite foods

2. Offer some ‘Free’ bait

Put a bit of ‘free’ peanut butter in the tunnel (the wooden box that you put your traps inside) in front of the trap – this encourages the rats and mice in. It helps attract more rodents too, as they’ll return to their nest with the first haul of peanut butter, and then bring their family back to the trap for more.


‘Free’ peanut butter offered at the front of a trapping tunnel

3. Put your trap in a prime location

It might be tempting to put your trap smack bang into the middle of your garden, where surely the most rats and mice will be scurrying. This isn’t necessarily the most effective position though, as rodents tend to avoid big open spaces.

Rats and mice prefer to run close to walls, plants and fences where they’re hidden from keen cat eyes. So the best place for your backyard trap is beside a wall or fence where the rats might be running.


Trap set beside a wall that mice and rats are likely to run beside

4. And if the first location fails, try again

If you don’t have a wall/fence to put your trap beside, or you’re not catching much, think about where in your garden the rats and mice might be hanging out.

Rodents will be attracted to places where they can find food and water. If you have a compost heap or trees that drop fruit on the ground your resident rats will probably be spending some time there, so that’s a good spot for your trap. Another good place is beside a waterway if you have one as rats and mice tend to run alongside streams and creeks.


Trap set in chicken coop, where there is often food on the ground that attracts rodents

5. Get your neighbours involved

If you reach a trapping plateau and stop catching as many rats and mice as you used to, it could be because they’ve cottoned on to that fact that your yard isn’t safe. They could be seeking sanctuary in properties nearby instead, so getting your neighbours involved in trapping will help ensure your entire neighbourhood is protected.


Then, next time you reach a plateau it may well be because you’ve caught the lot!

It’s Conservation Week from the 14th – 22nd of October. Get involved by protecting, growing, nurturing and caring for our nature.


Please note that it is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to use any inhumane methods to dispatch of predators. Approved methods for dispatching of predators using kill traps are outlined in our PF2050 trapping guide. All of these traps have been approved by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and comply with The Animal Welfare Act 1999.

8 responses to Top tips for backyard trapping

    Alan Reynolds 06/11/2017 at 7:05 am

    Do you have plan details on how to build a pest trap?

    Mark McAuley 05/11/2017 at 3:50 pm

    Rodents and mustelids are fond of tunnels. I sometimes place a piece of scrap plastic plumbing pipe in front of the trap entrance or in front of a bait station. Another “bait” that can be used in traps is a golf ball because they resemble eggs. Finding white eggs (which are more visible than brown) these days in nearly impossible in stores, so they are a good substitute that never spoils. A drop or two of bacon grease is a great attractant because the strong odour can be detected by pests from a great distance.
    For cat traps, I’ve bought some catnip. Once the bait’s in place, I give the surrounding area some puffs. The first night I used it, I caught one, and another 2 nights later. All you need to do is spray it again after it rains. I hope these help.


    Doesn’t mention cat traps for all the feral cas

    bruce rogan 04/11/2017 at 7:44 pm

    A Politician being helpful to the people. Takes your breath away. Be prepared, under the new government to have your breath taken away quite often.
    Trump is trying to take the planet’s breath away, for good.

    Carolyn Symmans 04/11/2017 at 1:26 pm

    I am a pest control officer for the Maketu Ongotoro Wetlands society and I use DOC 200 traps. I can add to your bait tips bacon and dog roll. For a lure instead of eggs which tend to break in transit and often deteriorate in a short space of time. My replacement is white ping pong balls I spread my lure over same I never wash same and I have been using same for just on 12 months with excellent results. Ping pong balls are cheap and dont break or go rotten. The bacon I use no more than a fingernail piece and the same with dog roll.


    Carolyn (Symmans)

    I think I am on your emailing liist

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. The Conservation Christmas Gift Guide « Conservation blog - December 18, 2017

    […] In the likely event that these gifts spark a pest removal competition in your family, you can stay one step ahead of the game with these top tips for backyard trapping. […]

  2. top tips for backyard rat and mouse trapping | Waikanae Watch - October 21, 2017

    […] via Top tips for backyard trapping — Conservation blog […]